ASU students create app to buy, sell parking spaces around campus

TEMPE, Ariz. – Two Arizona State University students have created an app that allows people to buy and sell parking spaces to combat with the high prices of campus parking permits, just in time for the fall semester.

AirGarage is a marketplace for people to list, find, and book convenient and affordable parking, according to its website.

People looking for parking get to pick their spots and homeowners looking to list their parking spots get to pick the price.

Most of the spots available on AirGarage currently are priced around $50 per month.  

Phoenix-native Scott Fitsimones and his partner Jonathon Barkl started to develop AirGarage last year when Fitsimones realized he was paying for a parking permit but only using his car on the weekends. He said he would park it at a lot further away from campus, because it was cheaper, but it was still costing him $480 a year.

“It adds a chunk to the cost of tuition,” Fitsimones said.

And $480 is one of the more moderately priced parking permits. Some permits can cost nearly $800.

Juniors Fitsimones, a computer science major, and Barkl, a physics and economics major, knew they had an opportunity to create a marketplace connecting drivers to homeowners.

Fitsimones said he and Barkl did not know how ASU was going to respond to their alternative parking option for students.

“We were trying to stay out of ASU’s way,” he said. “We made the assumption that they wouldn’t like us taking away business from them.”

But ASU, Fitsimones said, has been nothing but supportive. In fact, the university made a deal with the two student entrepreneurs.

“If we prove we can sell enough spots this year, ASU will include us on their list of parking options,” Fitsimones said.

The service is so new that there’s an imbalance in the supply and demand. AirGarage currently has 36 parking spots listed, but more students are interested in booking parking.

Fitsimones said his partner Barkl has been busy going door-to-door in neighborhoods surrounding the campus, trying increase the number of available spots before the school year starts.

That will be the company’s main objective for this semester: reaching more people who want to sell parking spots. Fitsimones predicts there will be an influx in students come January and an increase in vehicles too after Christmas.

In the long run, Fitsimones and Barkl want to bring AirGarage to other Arizona universities and expand from there.

For now, the app is still in the early stages and they are working out some issues, Fitsimones said. One of those issues is city ordinances.

“The laws don’t prohibit or allow selling parking spots,” Fitsimones said. “It’s just not updated for the sharing economy.”

He plans on attending Tempe City Council meetings to sort things out. He predicts there will be challenges, but he hopes everyone can see AirGarage is just trying to resolve a parking problem.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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